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Props of BLADE RUNNER: Harrison Ford’s original “hero” gun August 31, 2006

Posted by karltate in props.
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Just back from Worldcon 2006, what a blast. Great people and interesting panels.

The display area had some really remarkable items on view. One of the most surprising was the original HERO blaster prop used in Blade Runner!

Photos are ©2006 Karl Tate, please do not reproduce them without my permission. Thanks.

Here is the prop compared with one of the clearer frames from the film, from a scene near the end where Deckard (Harrison Ford) drops the weapon while climbing a wall to flee from the replicant Batty (Rutger Hauer):


To my knowledge this prop has never been seen by the public since the movie was filmed in 1982. All replicas which have been made up to now are based on blurry frames from the film and on castings of screenused rubber “stunt” props which lack several key details.

For instance, on the left side of the gun is a “laser sight”, which appears to be some sort of jeweler’s screwdriver. This was long thought to have some sort of green LED in it. As it turns out, there are TWO LEDs, one in either end.

Coming down from the sight is a bundle of four white wires, which are abruptly chopped off (these probably provided power for the LEDs):

Screengrab from Blade Runner

Screngrab from Blade Runner

The wires are visible in some scenes in the film, but missing in others, implying the prop was modified during production (or else there were more than one).

The straps on the front and back of the grip, thought to have been silver or black, turn out to be bare metal partially painted black. The lighter parts of the gun have been rendered in chrome or bright silver in most replicas; as it turns out these areas are bare steel (and pitted with rust).

On the right side of the gun, the large knob in the middle has usually been rendered in replicas as a flathead screw. In fact, it is a large knurled knob with radial engraved marks on it (a “windage knob” from a scope sight apparently).

Note also the prominent “OFF/ON” switch, thought to activate the LEDs visible on the sides of the “clip”.

Comparison with the scene ar the end of the film in Deckard’s apartment, shows that the Weaver scope knob was not present in at least some scenes. It may have been added after production. The “ON/OFF” switch can be seen however.

Rightside comparison

Comparison shots of the buttplate reveal that every scratch from 1982 is still there… and that this is indeed the original hero prop.


There’s an archive of my photos of this prop here



– Karl


Sssssssssssssss! June 3, 2006

Posted by karltate in props, Star Trek.
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Another Classic Star Trek post… this time featuring the Gorn from the episode "Arena"!

"Arena" is a fan favorite because it's got all the classic Trek elements… Enterprise under attack, Kirk forced to fight hand-to-hand with an alien lizard man… and of course that familiar Vasquez Rocks location.

Gorn 19

Gorn 12

Gorn 17

Gorn 05

Here's a rare shot of the Gorn suit when it was being built by prop wizard Wah Chang. Note the blood-red eyes (changed to disco-ball rhinestone-studded eyes before filming), and the ventilation holes down the front (which would be hidden by the creature's Gorn Garment).

Gorn03 Stsketch

Gorn01 Stsketch

An original Gorn foam-rubber mask was auctioned in a Profiles in History auction earlier this year. The mask had been owned by Fred Clarke, publisher of "Cinefantastique" magazine.

Gornpih 04

Gornpih 05

Photo credits: "Star Trek Sketchbook" by Solow, Profiles in History

Kirk to Enterprise May 31, 2006

Posted by karltate in props, Star Trek.

OK I admit it… I'm a Trekkie. Hey, I was a Trekkie before it was cool.

I'll let that sink in for a minute…

Anyway, back in the Seventies, there was a lot of Trek crap floating around, but it was just that: crap.

These days, there's a ton more Trek crap, but it's of much, much higher quality.

Master Replicas, for example, has released quite a few Star Trek and Star Wars prop replicas, more accurate and feature-laden than any fan could dream of back in those early days of proto-fandom.

If only we had then what we have now…

(cue up the "hurtling-back-thru-time" music sting…)


Photo illustration by Karl Tate

Robot rule May 27, 2006

Posted by karltate in robots.
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As noted earlier, I'm a big fan of the classic robots! In a preivous post I blogged about the Robbies. Today it's Smoking Man's turn!

Smoker Front

This is a vivid blue replica Smoker I picked up a few months ago. Originally I wasn't sure about the color… but he sure stands out!

My favorite is still the gray or metallic colored Smoker.

These are fun toys as well.. they walk, stop, and the eyes flash. Multicolored light whirls within the textured plastic "hat". And of course smoke pours from the mouth.

Classic Robot design.

Set phasers to stun May 25, 2006

Posted by karltate in props, Star Trek.

Picture-of-the-day time! This one features one of my favorite props, the phaser from classic Star Trek.

This replica was built by my friend Scott, who goes by the handle Centralrepair. He worked from my blueprints, which I drew from examining screen captures from the show, and the best images available of the screenused props.


These replicas are as close to the original props as we could make them…. Scott even replicated the complex mechanical linkages inside the prop that caused the sight to rise and the light bulbs to light when the thumbwheel is turned on the hand phaser.

– k

Props of Battlestar Galactica May 24, 2006

Posted by karltate in Battlestar Galactica, props.

Then there's Ron Moore's Battlestar Galactica… a show that frequently uses "found objects" as props. So everywhere you look, you find familiar Earth artifacts: eyeglasses, fire extinguishers, phones, paperback books, water bottles…

One of the few props specifically designed for the show was the sidearm carried by the pilots. The double-barreled design harks back to Harrison Ford's pistol in "Blade Runner".

These appeared in the BSG miniseries and (slightly modified) in the first season. But more recently they've switched to a boring-looking real-world pistol. Too bad.

Fortunately I have my replicas of the original pistol! Here's a miniseries-version solid resin replica (no moving parts) sculpted by Guardian Matsuo:


And here's a "first season" model, also by Matsuo. This one is built on top of an airsoft pistol! It doesn't fire pellets but you can click the trigger. Love the clicky-clicky!

I also have a couple of other "real world" items that are similar to those used on the show… an old Regens lighter, similar to the family heirloom that Adama gives to his son Apollo (this is a screengrab):


Another found item is the Nixon "Scout" watch… this appeared in at least one episode on Apollo's wrist. I have the black-banded version of this watch; this photo is a screengrab compared to a product shot.

Lee Nixon Scout

Note the beveled-off corners of the watch case… very appropriate, since in the world of "Battlestar Galactica", just about every square object has its corners cut off!

Props of Stargate SG-1 May 24, 2006

Posted by karltate in props, Stargate SG-1.

The original “Stargate” movie, with Kurt Russell and James Spader, was pretty much a waste of time IMHO… but the film showcased one mindblower of a science fiction idea: instantaneous space travel via gateways on different planets.

Reinvented for Showtime cable television, the series “Stargate SG-1” improved on the movie with smart stories and engaging characters. The scenario was quite similar to classic Star Trek: our heroes would “beam down” to a different planet each week, facing a new civilization and a new problem to solve.

Stargate SG-1 completed the latter half of its 10-year run on the Sci Fi Channel. Characters were added and departed, stories became less science-fictional, and ultimately way too much was “borrowed” from the Star Trek franchise.

Stlll… I like some of the props. Here are a few replicas from my collection.

From SG-1… First the Zat gun, an alien weapon introduced in the second season:


On the show there are fixed-closed props like that one, fixed-open ones, and a “hero” Zat that can pop up and snap closed (powered by air I think).

Here’s my fixed-open one:


The standard weapon of the SG-1 team is the P-90 submachine gun which has appeared in so many other shows and movies… I have an airsoft model of this with the correct accessories (or pretty close anyway). I don’t have a photo of mine but it looks like this (publicity photo)

Then we have another piece of alien technology, the TER:


The TER (“Transphase Eradication Rod”) was effective against invisible enemies… the weapon was only used in a couple of episodes.
Then there are the patches, very accurate ones come from the MGM store (and now stargateprops.com ). That’s screenused on the left, my accurate MGM patch in the middle, and an inaccurate fanmade patch on the right.


Another Stargate item is the Eye of Ra pendant… this appeared in both the movie and the TV series.

Replicas of the Eye pendant can be gotten from http://www.stargateprops.com/

Eye Of Ra Pendant-Kt

Several watches have been seen on the show… here’s a Suunto Vector which is what they’ve used for the past several seasons on the Sci Fi Channel (product shot)
Vector 2004 Big

Pic of the day May 24, 2006

Posted by karltate in props, robots.
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Time for another gratuitous photo! This time it’s another favorite of mine: the ray gun.

Here are a couple of Buck Rogers pistols from the 1930s: the XZ-38 Disintegrator (copper plated) and the XZ-31 Rocket Pistol (blued). These are pressed steel pop guns, and very sturdy. Probably inspired by the Mauser and other pistols, these ray guns are classics of design and instantly recognizable by the powder-horn muzzle and tapered rings decorating the barrel.


Photo by Karl Tate

Science fiction time May 23, 2006

Posted by karltate in props.

I love movie props! Especially from science fiction movies.

Here's John Anderton's watch from "Minority Report"… I like it because it has an animated face, and it's not the familiar LED or LCD your watch may have, but rather some sort of futuristic high-resolution image that has no apparent pixels.

 Minorityreport Watch01

Minorityreport Watch02


Seeing farther May 23, 2006

Posted by karltate in space.
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If you like astronomical images, check out Astronomy Picture of the Day

Ngc2440 Hst4